This is my take on a macaroni cheese; it’s not quite a traditional mac and cheese but it’s still pretty tasty and a real hit with the kids. You can leave out the chicken and add bacon instead or omit the meat completely for a vegetarian option. You’ll probably start seeing a bit of a trend with the recipes, packed with plenty of vegetables and makes enough for two nights of dinner or leftovers for lunch. This is also a great meal to drop off to parents with new babies!
Like most of the recipes this one can also be adjusted for dietary requirements. Use gluten-free pasta, flour and breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option and dairy-free margarine, milk and cheese for a dairy-free option.
3 cups dried macaroni. If you don’t have macaroni, use penne, spirals or shells
2 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 cup of frozen peas
1 medium courgette, chopped into small pieces or 1 cup of beans, chopped into thirds
4 cups of milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup of grated cheese
Salt and pepper, to season
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated cheese
Preheat the oven to 180°. Grease a large baking dish.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and once boiling, add pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes or until cooked to your liking. In the last few minutes of the pasta cooking, add the vegetables to a steamer and cook over the pasta. Drain the vegetables and pasta in a colander and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a frypan over a medium-high heat and add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until brown. Set aside.
To make the sauce, in a large pot melt the butter over a low to medium heat and add the flour, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the milk slowly and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. You want a fairly thick sauce so you may not need all of the milk. Add the nutmeg and mustard and continue whisking. Stir in the grated cheese and add the salt and pepper.
Add the cooked chicken, vegetables, and pasta to the sauce (hence the need for a large pot) and stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and second measure of grated cheese (if you have some parmesan, feel free to put some of this on top as well).
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. The top should be golden and bubbling.